by Jennifer Donnelly, published 2010
purchased last year, Embarrassment of Riches Challenge 9/50
I really enjoyed this book. Andi is having some hard times. Her parents aren’t around much, her 10-year-old brother died last year and she thinks it is her fault for some reason. In fact, she assumes everyone thinks his death is her fault. So she has gone off the deep end, popping pills to quash her suicidal tendencies, her mother is lost in her painting and her father is lost in work, where he has always been. It is a horrible thing, but it is also a bit of “poor little rich girl” with absent parents, too much money and not enough responsibilities.
She ends up going to Paris when her father forces her to go with him because she has been messing around, might not graduate high school (she tests genius level) and she needs to buckle down and work on her thesis (needed to graduate). She is a musician and is doing her paper on Malherbeau. Don’t bother looking for his stuff because Donnelly made him up – sad, I wanted to listen to his pieces while reading, oh well!
While in Paris, she finds a diary written by a girl her age during the French Revolution. It is fascinating, horrifying and illuminating.
Miss Hammond sighed, “History is a Rorschach test, people,” she said. “What you see when you look at it tells you as much about yourself as it does about the past.” (pg 300)
And that is true for this book. There are connections, many, many connections and it is fascinating. Not all real, no, but fascinating nonetheless. Well, the Revolution stuff is real, but surrounded by this story, it is horrifying and awesomesauce. I love historical fiction. I get stuff that really happened swaddled in a story that keeps me reading. I love that! Certain things were tough, the diary flips about in time and I didn’t really know what was real at certain times, but ultimately I am pretty sure I figured it out. Also, Andi is tough. She is a jerk, an ass, a pushy mean person and she is hurting so much. You feel for her, but then you don’t and she is super annoying. But if you push past it, the story rocks and she moves on…ultimately.
This book lets you know the smells of the catacombs, the warts of Paris in the 1800s, the horrors, that history repeats itself, and that horrible things happen. And not just because of the madmen who become leaders, but because people turn their backs and let it happen. It really does not give you a glorious answer to how to fix that, except that people need to stand up to the bullies, even if it means death. Andi becomes involved in something larger than her and her families issues. She learns to live again.
I give this 4.5 stars wrapped in clove-scented linen. Follow the chalk arrows through the catacombs to meet us at the next Victim’s Party! Don’t forget your red ribbon.